Saturday, February 12, 2011

friends I've lost since becoming a mom

I was thinking the other day about friends I've lost since becoming a mom; in particular female friends without kids. Am I just not interesting to them anymore? A goner, with a mush brain, the way I used to think of moms with young kids?

When my best friend became a mom, I felt like I lost her. I couldn't see why she didn't have time to talk with me on the phone for an hour every day anymore. Why she couldn't really talk with me even when I came over to visit. Why all she seemed to think and talk about was her baby.

It embarrasses me now that I was so clueless. It didn't take me long as a new mom to see that really, she was the one who lost me.

When I apologized, she said she felt badly too that she'd lacked the words to explain to me how her life had changed. I don't blame her; I haven't figured it out either. Partly, it's the grief that I may not be living up to someone's standards, wishing me, perhaps, to be more like I used to be. Partly then it's also defensiveness about not being like I used to be, while also feeling like I still really am. Then there's also my insecurities about seeming like a complete mush brain were we do get together; I mean, I do have a hard time completing sentences and recalling stuff during conversations. I'm clearly not up-to-date on a lot of things.

It's a booster, then, to actually have girlfriends without kids whom I can have fun with while being myself completely. After I last had lunch with one such friend, I felt so invigorated and affirmed; that I'm still somewhat interesting to talk with. I mean, she's this successful attorney at a big law firm, super sharp and intelligent. It may be to my benefit that she mainly does family law, dealing intimately with a lot of moms going through divorce. She sees that while they're fighting over custody rights for their children, it's still really hard to be the one with children.

Which brings me to another thing about this friend that I'm truly grateful for: I can be blunt about my frustrations about being a mom with her. When I told her this, because it doesn't feel like that's the way it usually is with child-free friends whom I feel would judge me were I to bitch about the hard parts of parenting, she just looked at me a bit baffled; "but it's your job, we all bitch about our jobs, no matter how much we love them."

See?! She totally gets it. Parenting is work, and though it's my preference to do it, there are elements of it that I at times would really like to abdicate from having to do and deal with. It feels good to vent about those things to friends who don't question your loyalty and love for your job.

But back to the friends who don't seem to get it, what are the magic words? Anyone?

On a related note, you might be interested in this book to which our in-town writer Shannon Hylland-Tassava's has a piece titled "The Mommy Wars Killed Our Friendship."

"Have you ever had something you wanted to say to a friend, but couldn’t? Ever wished you could go back in time to say something you didn’t? Female friendships are some of the most powerful and beautiful relationships in our lives, but it can sometimes be hard to express our true sentiments to these friends. Whether it be pride, fear, feelings, or circumstance that stand in the way, each of us likely has something we wish we could say to someone, but haven’t. In P.S., Megan McMorris collects these sentiments, as an anthology of unsent letters written by a range of women. For the friend who’s been there for you through everything, the friend you’ve lost touch with, or the friend you’ve wished you could help, P.S. offers a chance to express the unspoken."


  1. Thank you for the plug, Anne!!!! :) I totally relate to you here. I have had all these same experiences. In fact, the 2nd anthology to publish an essay of mine comes out May 1st, and my essay in that book is semi-related to this topic, too. (The book is called "Torn: True Stores of Kids, Career and the Conflict of Modern Motherhood, coming out from Coffeetown Press, and my essay is called "Is Never Good For You?"--see my blog post tomorrow (2/14).) Anyway, this new essay is about how when my girls were both toddlers I had NO time to catch up with my friends who weren't stay-at-home moms. How I had all these "old" friends who wanted to stay in touch with me but I just had no time. However, it wasn't just about childless friends. It was about my working mom friends too, who seemed to somehow have more dispensable time (like, slow days at the office--when my "office" was never slow!). Well, anyway. Thank you and hang in there! You're not alone.

  2. Thanks, Shannon! I look forward to reading that book and your new essay in it! I've experienced falling out of touch with working mom friends too, mostly academics who're so busy already so the time crunch is an issue, and it could also be different parenting philosophies, I'm not sure.

  3. I can remember flying back to the United States from Vietnam with Paul, then 10 months. Two weeks earlier we had flown over there, a married couple, eagerly anticipating seeing Vietnam and getting our new son. We took a little honeymoon together during our free time, touring the city, even sitting on the beach of the South China Sea. We couldn't wait to get Paul and be a complete family together.

    On the way back Paul alternately slept and cried, my husband had a full-blown head cold, and I popped up and down to feed, walk with, diaper, and generally minister to this baby who was a stranger to me. I noticed younger people around me, single or married, childless, looking at me. They had an expression on their faces that I remembered well: the look that people without children give to those with small children in public. I realized in that moment that I had stepped across a great divide, and that no matter how totally unprepared I was for this new role, I was on the other side of it. My former self was standing across the abyss, looking at me quizzically, as if I were some sort of exotic species that was vaguely interesting but overall rather off-putting.

    People who knew about our adoption plans--parents--told us that nothing can prepare you for this. I didn't like hearing that; I was used to studying up on things and getting the lowdown. But they were right. Your childless friends don't have a clue, and you as a childless friend didn't have a clue. There's really nothing anyone can do about it, except acknowledge that you don't know what you don't know.


  4. I agree in a lot of ways. Also with Shannon's point about having trouble getting together with friends who are working parents (who somehow have a lot more time for some things--eating out and going out and doing stuff--in part I think just because they have so many babysitters at their fingertips). On the other hand my working-parent-friends have a hard time trying to cook home-cooked meals or get their laundry done.

    But what I really wanted to say here is that having a kid revived my friendship with my best from from childhood. We had been so close and then somewhere during her education/training to become an obstetrician and her adopting 3 kids as infants, I became convinced she didn't care about me anymore and I gave up on her. Now (even with just the one kid), I get why she stopped calling me. We got back in touch and made up and are closer now than ever before. I'm so happy to have her back and all I had to do was accept what reality is for people with kids ;-)

    I love the way another parent friend of mine put it. She and her husband were Internet boom millionaires and were busy with the sorts of things millionaires get busy with (dabbling in stuff, buying homes, eating out), etc. And then they adopted 3 non-English-speaking siblings (ages 2-6) with some problems. My friend put it her shock at the transition in her life this way: "What was I doing before that was so important?"


  5. Thanks for powerful comments! On another note, it's so true that cooking meals and getting laundry done are among the things a stay-at-home mom can get done more easily, simply because though that too can be challenging, it's not as bad or hard as trying to do something on the computer, which to Lilly indicates REAL competition to her getting my attention. And a person needs to feel like she is getting SOMETHING done, so there it is: cooking and cleaning. And when I'm busy with that, she can sort of "help" as well (I don't appreciate her tapping at my keyboard).


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...